KAUSAV BARUAK / AIPS* in GUWAHATI: Stephen Constantine, who is back as India coach after a decade, hinted that it will be his own way of planning and execution in India’s World Cup qualifiers that get under way with a home fixture against Nepal, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here next Thursday.
Constantine said: “I have not decided on who will be leading the side. Captain would be of my choice and I will select the person who leads the team. I don’t want to know who led the side earlier.”
The Englishman is disappointed with the fact that India is placed 171 in the FIFA rankings but said: “We managed to make it to the 109th place during my first stint and I hope we can do well as we had done then.
“A lot of work needs to be done and we are in a difficult situation as we are ranked 171st currently. It’s not all about administration, as we need to win and if I can make them win, I am in … Else, I am out,” the 52-year-old said.
Asked about the absence of midfielder Mehtab Hossain among the probables, Constantine said: “Mehtab is a fighter and I picked him up during my first stint when he was young. But now, he is not being able to cover the ground.”
Altogether, 26 probables will be attending a preparatory camp for India’s upcoming home and away matches, which begins from Thursday, here, at the Sarusajai Sports Complex.
While discussing his vision for Indian football, the gaffer laid emphasis on the need for grassroots development. “I don’t really think that the I-League or the ISL can really bring the talent into notice. They seek readymade talent, while I think if interest is taken in every state to develop the grassroots, it will definitely help the cause,” Constantine added.
Regarding the difference he has observed after his return as coach for the second tenure, Constantine said: “There has been a great development. Guwahati, Goa and Pune have really improved over the years.
“How can anyone expect a player to play in the slush and then straightaway go to play on a good surface? All I can say is that the positives outweigh the negatives.
“Indian players play 65 to 70 games a season, train on poor surfaces and travel by bus. So, they go through a tough time,” said Constantine.
“In England, the scenario is completely different. We seriously need to address the calendar,” Constantine said about the maintaining fitness and the issues concerning the players’ development.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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